The many faces of Arrangement Ghost
Arrangement Ghost has been playing music in Chico for a little over two years, but depending on when one may have heard the band play, their sound can produce very different impressions.
Arrangement Ghost is the home-recording project of Jason Willmon, featuring the singer/songwriter’s spooky, throaty vocals and intimate and moody arrangements courtesy of musician friends invited over to add various guitars, bass, drums and vocals.
Or, Arrangement Ghost is Willmon’s mid-tempo three-piece—with Ken Lovgren on drums and John Harrison on bass—that plays original country-tinged rock songs at sporadic gigs around Chico.
Or, maybe you don’t know Arrangement Ghost, but you know Harbinger Harbinger, with Willmon and band joining forces with Royal Crown’s Becky Anker and the two songwriters taking turns at the mic.
Arrangement Ghost is all of the above. Everything begins with Willmon’s songwriting and home recordings, and the changes to the live sound are nothing more than the natural addition and subtraction of the contributions of friends/bandmates.
“Time really changed everything. … And the last time we met, as a group, it felt like things were changing again,” Willmon said. “We have no plans. I think we all love just playing music together. And while I still bring songs to the group, everybody is in.”
The latest change: Lovgren has moved to second guitar, with Aaron Markus (Birds of Fire, Werewolf) taking over on the skins. This four-piece version is still playing the same songs that appeared on the band’s first self-titled CDR (plus a few new ones), but the subdued feel has been exchanged for a raucous swing. At a couple of recent A.G. performances, the group cut loose like a spirited bar band with a tight and energetic feel—not unlike Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, or even Neil Young’s Crazy Horse.
It’s only been a couple months since the band became a four-piece, so these lofty comparisons are probably premature and a little over the top. And, with the prospect of bassist Harrison possibly leaving town and brand new fill-in bassist/lap steel player Byron Maes (as in Byron of old-school Chico bands These Days and The Shilos) leaving town already, things will be shifting again. However, given the way Willmon and his crew have operated, it hardly seems like an issue.
“What’s refreshing about this band is the absence of a rigid vision,” Lovgren said. “We’re more about creating a lively and mutually supportive atmosphere at practices, and letting beauty show up and pull up an armchair when and if she sees fit. We don’t force it.”
Despite the lack of forcefulness, the band is getting a little recognition for its work. As part of its Discover Local Music Project and its relationship with CN&R’s recent CAMMIES music series, Umpqua Bank included an A.G. tune on its first compilation CD, Discover Local Music: Vol. 1, Sacramento to Seattle.
As for future recordings, Willmon says he’s “been goofing around with some recordings off and on for the past few months,” but nothing has stuck quite yet. “But sooner or later something will and then we’ll let folks hear what we have to say, music-wise that is.”